Monday, April 30, 2007

'The Sopranos' finale scenario

In all the blogs about the end of "The Sopranos," everyone has missed the key scene of last night's show. It was short and not that noticeable, but when put together with two other scenes, you have the utlimate finale (which I have blogged to others in past weeks).
And it goes like this: Tony is in deep ... "shower scene" (that could be the most lasting impression of 2007) with the FBI; they finally got him by the canolis.
HOWEVER, Tony is going to pass along some important information to his cop buddy-snitch at the ... Department of Homeland Security about the two Bada-Bing Arabic wannabes who he spotted last night outside of what looked like a mosque.
Can you spell "terrorist cell?"
That is the chip, the winning bet, if you will, that he will play to "retire" to Florida as an ex-boss ... with others to fight over his turf
Some will not survive; some will thrive. But Tony Soprano will live to belittle Carmela amother day. AJ will be king of the pizzeria, although he won't be in any Puerto Rican Pride parades and Meadow will have nothing to do with her father
Tony will be probably alone as he should be - no Dr. Melfi, perhaps no Carm, no Paulie, no Chris-tah-fuh and no Sil (he's just 24/7 Baba Bing).
To think about what his life has been and will be.
Mark my words, please.

Invisible poll tax on the march

As we speak and sleep, there is an onerous effort moving through the Texas legislative – an attempt to institute what amounts to a poll tax, to prevent certain people from voting.
It confuses what is a privilege with what is an unfettered right as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
Driving a car, which requires a license (containing a photo ID) is a privilege. To obtain it, you must pass a test and pay to have the license renewed every six years. It is a money-making operation for the government. The same holds true for passports; you pay for the privilege to travel.
Voting is an absolute right; you do not pay currency for your rights.
The bill in question is House Bill 218, sponsored by Terrell Republican Betty Brown. It passed 76-69 in the House last week and is sitting in the Senate, awaiting debate and possible action.
Currently, voters either show their voter registration card or, failing that, produce an identification to match their name to voter registry rolls. The bill would require a photo identification card, although it isn’t clear what constitutes a valid ID, or two other forms of non-photo identification at a polling place, and other ineligible residents from voting.
First of all, no one has proven that voter fraud is a problem in Texas. It exists everywhere because such things exist on all levels of society – from business to education to elections. However, the severity of these incidents, in this state, is rather minimal.
What many of you don’t know is that anyone registering to vote must either produce a Texas driver’s license and a valid social security card and number. This information could be validated at the county election administrator’s office, which is responsible for keeping the voter registration files.
Second, there is NO law which requires a single American (or Texas) soul to own a driver’s license. Without one, you cannot drive a motor vehicle, but you do NOT sacrifice your Constitutional rights – voting among them. If you are blind or handicapped, you might not drive, but you can vote. If you have reached a certain age, you might not drive, but you can vote.
The bill does allow for “exemptions” – a free state-generated photo ID and the handicapped and citizens over 80 (I guess if you’re 79, you are out of luck). But as I said, there is no law that states you MUST possess a photo ID. If people want to debate instituting a national or state identification system, using one card to serve multiple purposes, let’s have that discussion. But don’t muddy the waters by keeping anyone – the poor, minorities, the handicapped, and the elderly – from exercising their Constitutional rights because of some nebulous umbrella known as voter “fraud.”
After all, can anyone prove that driver’s licenses don’t also involve “fraud?” Remember this: non-citizens can easily get driver’s licenses, but it doesn’t give them the right to vote. Just go to any high-tech corporation in the region and see the different employees from various countries – all with valid licenses.
Then there is that question of validity. My wife works for Texas Instruments and is required, for all her moments inside that building, to sport a visible ID badge to let people know she is who she says she is. However, will that badge, which a multi-billion-dollar corporation issues and accepts as “valid,” be good enough to appear to vote in a statewide election? Or is only the money-making driver’s license system instituted by a state government?
THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is a poll tax – you have to pay your way to vote. And that’s been ruled illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Sadly, the language of the legislation and language of the debate suggests ulterior motives. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, again a Republican who presides over the State Senate, said his chamber favors “making sure American citizens vote in American elections.” We all know what that means; they are code words for illegal immigrants despite the fact that there has been no evidence of massive participation in elections by non-citizens.
And don’t you think, in certain locales, Hispanic Americans will be hassled far more when trying to vote, merely because of the color of their skin or the inflection of their surname? Please, don’t be so blind.
And if you are black, and suffered through segregation in this state, as well as coordinated efforts throughout the South to keep you from voting, this all smacks of the bad old days.
“Nothing pains me more in this House than to be forced to talk about being black in America, and that is what I must talk about because that is my experience; that is the lens that I see through,” said Rep. Helen Giddings (D-Dallas). “I keep praying that the day is near when we will be colorblind, but that day is not here yet. You cannot erode one freedom without eroding a little of yours.”
She is absolutely correct. As is the case with other factors in out society, you cannot become slightly pregnant and you cannot sacrifice freedoms and unalienable rights for a moment – once it happens, everything changes for the worse.
For a group that constantly fusses about lack of voter turnout, it seems odd that heaping more unnecessary restrictions on the process would improve matters. Of course, it isn’t the process that voters find objectionable; it’s the cast of characters and the scenario they perform within.
With so many problems that currently exist in Texas, that require the immediate and undivided attention of the Legislature, this is NOT one of them.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

NASCAR fans ARE pro wrestling goons

Tony Stewart is dead on the money and NASCAR should refund his fine. He accurately compared the sort, as it stands today, to pro wrestling, except his target was wrong.
It is this wacky collection of idiots, known as NASCAR Nation, which resembles the pro wrestling remark.
For the second consecutive week, veteran driver Jeff Gordon, one of the sport’s all-time best competitors, won a race. And for the second time, the idiots in the stands, the ones who insist on sporting the numbers “3” and “8” next to their shotgun and deer rifle racks, pelted Gordon and his winning Chevy with beer cans, many of them loaded with brew, constituting a dangerous weapon if striking a human being.
In the real world, that would be assault with a deadly weapon, but in NASCAR, it’s called “fan reaction.”
That is the same kind of reaction one would except in the WWE.
Here is the report from the Associated Press on today’s race (April 29):
TALLADEGA, Ala. – As beer cans bounced around his car, Jeff Gordon crossed
the finish line Sunday for win No. 77 – breaking a tie with the late Dale
Earnhardt on NASCAR’s career victory list.
It was only fitting that it
happened at Talladega Superspeedway, where Earnhardt – who would have been 56 on
Sunday – won 10 times in his Cup career.
But it was anticlimactic and
confusing, ending under caution to leave Gordon unsure if he’d actually won and
taken over sixth place on the wins list.
“Is it over?” he radioed his crew.
“Is it over? Is it official?”
Nobody knew after two separate accidents on the
first lap of a three-lap shootout to the finish froze the field and had NASCAR
scrambling to make sense of the finish.
It was a stark difference to last
week, when Gordon won in Phoenix to tie Earnhardt’s mark and flew a No. 3 flag
on his victory lap as a tribute to the seven-time champion. The gesture was
poorly received, though, as fans threw debris at him even though Dale Earnhardt
Jr. immediately – and publicly – praised the tribute.
Junior condemned fans
for throwing beer cans during the week, imploring his “Red Army” of supporters
to instead toss toilet paper out of safety concerns.
Track officials did
their part, warning during the pre-race ceremony that any fan caught throwing
debris onto the track would be arrested. They made good on it, too, hauling fans
away in handcuffs as officers stationed in the stands fruitlessly tried to stop
Gordon’s crew, meanwhile, frantically called for security help to get the
team spotter out of the stands.
“It don’t look like it’s something you can
control,” Earnhardt Jr. sighed.
As the beer cans rained down on his car,
Gordon cut short his on-track celebration and drove to Victory Lane.
“I never
caused a riot before for winning – well, maybe once or twice,” Gordon said. “I
thought Junior had more power. I thought they’d throw toilet paper, which is
what he asked them to throw. I saw maybe one roll.”
But Gordon was
understanding of the fan reaction.
“There are a lot of fans out there who are
Earnhardt fans who don’t want to see (the record) broken,” he said. “I
appreciate the enthusiasm ... the opinions of all the fans out there. What are
you going to do?”
Earnhardt Jr., who made a brief run at the victory,
finished seventh. But unlike last week, when he visited Gordon in Victory Lane,
he stayed away from the celebration.
“I told him this week, I said, ‘You win
this one and I ain’t coming into Victory Lane this time. That caused too much
trouble,”‘ Junior said. “He’s a great race car driver. I knew years ago he would
eventually pass my old man. I think he has the opportunity to pass a couple
Tony Stewart, embroiled in controversy all week for likening NASCAR to
pro wrestling, was knocked into the wall far ahead of the first accident. He
bounced off the outside wall, slid down the track and into the inside wall, then
stood fuming on the apron as he waited for the field to pass. He made an angry
gesture at Jamie McMurray and David Gilliland as they passed under
With all that going on, Gordon was too hesitant to claim the
As the field slowly headed to the flag, and the beer cans began to fly
over the fence and onto his car, he accepted it.
“I don’t see any toilet
paper,” crew chief Steve Letarte said.
“I love that. It’s awesome,” Gordon

No sane sport allows for such heinous fan behavior, but I’ll bet that most of the NASCAR nation thinks that nothing has been done wrong and such behavior is just “funnin.’”
Goof balls! It’s not so much of a sport as a reason for white-trash, rednecks to gather and get fucking drunk and disorderly.
And these people have enshrined a dead driver who was the nastiest, most reckless person on the track.
By the way, Gordon has married two of the hottest women on the planet, so boo-hoo to all of yoo-hoo. Or should I say, yah-hoos.

What has New Orleans done to deserve this kind of non-treatment?

Only God knows what the people of New Orleans did to draw such mistreatment, such ignorance, such lying and such disdain from the Bush White House to have rejected more than $800 million in aid after Hurriance Katrina.
From the Washington Post:
Had that monetary offer come to spend on the Iraqi War, it would have been gobbled up and spent in a nanosecond.
All the people of New Orleans did was to be black (for the most part), poor (for much of the city) and in a state, and town, run by Democrats.
As I have said often, why someone isn't in prison for criminal negligence, including the people in the White House, is beyond me. However, the culture of outright lying starts at the very top when the Liar-Decider stood in Jackson Square and said he would do everything possible to see that New Orleans was a restored.
Liar! His lies on this and other matters have hurt and even killed people. All Bill Clinton lied about was getting a "hummer," not the vehicle either.
Which is worse?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

A 'Hull' of a way to go!

A sports quickie. Once again the Dallas Stars are one-and-done in the Stanley Cup playoffs and it's all because or their pathetic lack of offense. That stems form a massive failure to even court a free agent who might be considered a "sniper."
Head Coach Dave Tippett will probably be fired and the search for the person who will begin for someone to retain the players' respect and attention.
I have such a name - someone others looked to during his playing days.
He's feisty, firey and won't take crap from anyone. He would institute an offensive scheme geared to scoring. He'd insist on players with shooting ability, not an entire roster of low-paid grinders. He'd also insist on some real speed and dump the excess baggage like Lindros, Nagy, Klemm, Nordstrom, and others.
More importantly, he would awaken the dormant feelings in Dallas where no one, outside of the arena crowd itself, seems to care.
Perhaps that would include the superstitious idiot owner Tom Hicks, (who wouldn't travel to Vancouver because of some stupid Game 7 "superstition" but was at the Ballpark wathcing the Rangers). I'd betcha he'd certainly take a road trip if the Rangers were in the playoffs (don't worry; his seat in blue-blood GOP rich Highland Park is safe).
I'll take all the credit for this movement in Dallas: BRETT HULL AS COACH!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"It's going to be a bumpy night"

On this, the 13th anniversary of the devasating Lancaster, Texas tornadoes of 1994, Mother Nature left a little calling card that she, not us, rules!
All over the Dallas-Fort Worth area, there have been reports of funnel clouds and actual touchdowns (tornadoes) from two different storms - one in the afternoon and one during most of the evening.
No injuries have been reported, except for those with nervous stomachs, and rainfall amounts might exceed 8-9 inches in some locales.
The Metroplex has been in a severe drought for the last 2-3 years, with reservoirs, on which all the area depends for drinking water, as low as 13 feet down normal levels. All these April storms - this is the fourth such "stop the presses" major burst in the last 2-3 weeks - will do much to alleviate that drought condition.
Until the long, hot summer as Tennessee Williams wrote.
Old-timers in Lancaster, and those who left after 1994, had to feel strange about all this happening on this date. In fact, the storm struck Lancaster at 9:38 p.m. in 1994, and that community was being rained upon heavily when the clock moved to that position on the dial tonight. Deja vu all over again.
Sadly, here in Plano, no warning sirens sounded ... at least I couldn't hear them, and that sucks. I cannot imagine, with all stations reporting the severity of this storm, what it will take to ignite those sirens.
I know no one reads this blog, at least no one responds, so y'all probably don't care. But as one who went through it 13 years ago, my mouth got a tad dry tonight.
However, it IS the price to pay for cheaper housing and cost of living in North Texas.

The best writes on THE best

Of all the tributes from colleagues and writers, this one from ESPN's Peter Gammons, who himself was the top baseball columnist from his days on the Boston Globe, can be found on
"When we lost David Halberstam, we lost the greatest journalist of my lifetime, or perhaps any time. He interviewed, he studied, and he put it down in a historic perspective so brilliant that it was intimidating to anyone
else who tried to capture a fraction of time and place in print.
He wrote the ultimate book about Vietnam ('The Best and the Brightest'), he wrote 'The Powers That Be,' and one can argue that 'War in a Time of Peace: Bush, Clinton, and the Generals' was even more extraordinary, with no agenda (he portrayed the senior Bush as one of the great modern foreign policy presidents). 'The Breaks of the Game' about Dr. Jack Ramsey, Billy Ray Bates, Bill Walton and the Trail
Blazers was a sports classic, as were 'Summer of ‘49' and 'Summer of ‘64' and 'The Teammates.'
He was an elegant man, dressed nattily in a blazer and bow
tie. Yes, he wore them when he was in the third row for Springsteen at Fenway Park, and he wore them to see Little Feat at The Chicken Box on Nantucket. Ever the gentleman. Ever kind.
He fearlessly covered the civil rights movement for a small Mississippi newspaper, and he stood up against the Kennedy administration when he covered Vietnam. To see the small snapshots in the context of the big picture is a rare skill, a skill no one better articulated than David Halberstam."

Finally some truth about the lies

It's taken a few years to happen, but finally, a Congressional investigative ocmmittee is asking some hard questions about the lies told by the Pentagon and U.S. military with regards to the fabircations surrounding the death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman and rescued soldier Jessica Lynch.
Bottom line is this: the Republicans wouldn't hold these hearings because they were scared of the Army brass and Donald Rumsfeld. Criticizing these bastards for lying was twisted into showing a lack of support for the troops.
That is such bullshit! Liars are liars, regardless of a uniform or three-piece suit. Our fighting men and women and their families deserve truth. War is not an alibi to sacrfiice the truth.
Yet truth is the biggest casualty since the Bush White House came into power.
Oops, I'm sorry - it just can't recall.
I hope Congress skins these people alive for the harm and hurt they've deliberately concocted upon families. It is inexcusable.
Shame, shame on ALL of them.

13 years ago ...

As I sit here and look at the weather radar, with the possibility of threatening storms, I see the calendar reads "April 24."
If you lived in Lancaster, Texas, or DeSoto, Texas (neighboring cities) 13 years ago (1994), it is a date that comes with a certain amount of uneasiness.
Twin F4 tornadoes, which were actually spinning together, struck the two southern Dallas County communities, around 9 p.m. (exactly 9:38 p.m. when the storm struck Lancaster's Town Square), killing three people and destroying more than 600 homes.
It was one of the most destructive tornadoes to hit this part of North Texas, but goes almost unnoticed (except for a visit to the former historic site which still bears the quite visible scars on that night) in the Metroplex. Even the people of Lancaster fail to stop and take one minute to remember the dead and the hurt it inflicted. Instead too many people pretend it didn't happen. Which is sad more than it being in bad taste (which it is as well).
Those of us who went through it, and covered it for the news media afterwards, won't easily forget. Which is why today, I keep one eye on the skies and the other on the calendar. History often DOES repeat itself.
Let's hope not.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The world has lost one of its best writers-voices

There are deaths of notable that make you wince in its suddenness and personal impact.
The death of author-journalist David Halberstam was one such moment.
Not only was he a Pultzer Prize winning journalist for his Vietnam coverage, but I loved him as a chronicler of my favorite sport, baseball. He was greatness in all areas but pure genius when it came to America's pastime because he was able to perfectly capture all nuances and meanings of a game played by men but invented for boys.
He wrote "Playing for Keeps, "October 1964," "The Amateurs," "The Breaks of the Game" and "The Teammates," the latter book about three legendary Boston Red Sox players (Johnny Pesky, Dominic DiMaggio and Bobby Doerr) going to see Ted Williams for one final time in October, 2001.
However, the creme de la creme had to be "Summer of '49," which detailed the most exciting pennant race ever - the 1949 epic battle beween Boston and the hated rival New York Yankees. It was, and is, the finest book EVER WRITTEN on baseball -- period, end of discussion, no more words need be said or written.
Halberstam was working on a book about the 1958 NFL defining playoff game between the Baltimore Colts and the New York football Giants. He was en route to an interview with ex-Giant QB Y.A. Tittle when a car plowed into his vehicle in Menlo Park, Calif.
The world cannot afford to lose its most talented people before their time is up ... or before the world is ready to give them up.
Take a moment to say a word of prayer for David Halberstam, a DaVinci among wordsmiths.
The world is worse off.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Introducing Imusisms

I am now officially coining a new phrase for the political and social lexicon – Imusisms. In honor of the dismissed radio shock jock Don Imus, who just didn’t know when to shut up, I am creating a category for all those idiotic statements that inadvertently insult people, when it would have been best to close their yap and say nothing at all.
Hence, an Imusism.
The first entry goes to former Wisconsin governor-Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, who is also running a darkhorse Republican campaign for President.
According to Political Wire, Thompson told a group of Jewish activists that making money is “part of the Jewish tradition,” and something that he applauded, as reported by Haaretz.
“I’m in the private sector and for the first time in my life I’m earning money. You know that’s sort of part of the Jewish tradition and I do not find anything wrong with that.”
After causing “a stir in the audience,” Thompson only made matters worse by trying to apologize.
I just want to clarify something because I didn’t [by] any means want to infer or imply anything about Jews and finances and things. What I was referring to, ladies and gentlemen, is the accomplishments of the Jewish religion. You’ve been outstanding business people and I compliment you for that.”

Gosh, I must be the poorest Jew I know since I have no innate ability to make money, unlike, apparently, all my brethren. But we must all be like Fagen, right? We’re the moneychangers.
Why, oh why, do people verbalize such stupid stereotypes and why do they seem to run for political office so often?
Thank you, Tommy Thompson, for providing the first Imusism. I’m sure there will be MORE to come. If it catches on, I want ALL the credit.

Virginia Tech shooting reaction

On the Dallas Morning News' editorial blog - Dallas Morning Views - some Jack Bauer wannabe wrote that, in essence, the students at Virginia Tech were too pussified to challenge this murderer when he was using classmates and professors for cheap carnival target practice. This idiot suggested that it was cowardise and a lack of any balls that no one stopped him, and ran for the cover of desks to keep from getting blasted.
Right, like this person is going to charge a man discharging a weapon in full view of friends and colleagues and pretend it's a water pistol. What bullshit! But this is the introspective time for such cow droppings.
Guess what? Those young people did exactly what 100% of us would have done - dive for cover. A few in one classroom tried to barricade the door when the man returned. And that action might have saved more lives.
This sheer nonsense about allowing students to "pack heat" to stop such isolated cases muddles any sensible discussion. Guns DO kill people although that's not the real problem in almost every case (it would still be nice to make it a teensy bit harder to get one - like a return to a 7-day waiting cooling-of period and/or certification of some kind of pre-purchase training before actually getting your hands on one).
The rage from within that drives some people to resort to such action IS the problem. Rage make people want to kill people.
And frankly I don't have a quick, convenient answer.
No one does.
All you can do is shed a tear and hope it doesn't happen to you or someone you love. That is SO fucking sad about the state of our nation and our society.

Friday, April 13, 2007

News from my darling wife's employer

The hot news from Texas Instruments:
TI is running in Monday's 111th Boston Marathon. Well, not exactly.
But TI's
technology – small radio-frequency identification (RFID) transponders attached
to runners' shoelaces – helps track athletes' times as they stride over 13
rubber mats placed along the 26-mile course. The transponders transmit each
runner's identification number to antennae on the mats, which sends the data,
including times and locations, to nearby computers for verification at the
finish line. Friends and family can also track the progress of their favorite
runners online or through wireless handheld devices.
TI's technology –
originally developed to track the movement of livestock rather than athletes –
is part of ChampionChips' TimePoint timing system. More than 23,000 athletes are
expected to lace up with TI's technology in the April 16 marathon, the first
major U.S. race to use RFID technology.

I think the portion that reads, "originally developed to track the movement of livestock rather than athletes," says it all for me.

More disgusting news leaking from FEMA

Today's Washington Post has this story about how inept FEMA was during Hurricane Katrina.
Here's a good question: When will someone be held CRIMINALLY liable for all this waste, fraud, corruption and pain that the government made worse.
Second good question: When will we treat our OWN citizens better than people in lands (and sands) far, far away????
I guess NOT until Jan. 21, 2009.

Time ot take a deep breath all around

In my 30 years as a journalist in Texas, I imagine I have written as many as 1,500 opinion columns, ranging from sports to politics to religion to how my son cut his own hair at 4 years old and created a bald spot.
I’ve never been fired for anything I wrote (of course for half that time I worked for me and couldn’t afford to find anyone willing to work for me), but I got called on the carpet plenty. Either the publisher or the editor or a major advertiser or someone among the readership didn’t like this or that. It happens.
But each time I submitted or published a column, I took a deep breath and re-read what I had typed. It offers me a chance to re-examine the piece – to be sure what I was writing didn’t cross a line I knew existed in the sand of my public. My training and experience was my guidepost; in other words, I knew better.
Guess what? Don Imus knew better; he had been on the air for over 40 years until he forgot the “rules” and that deep breath. As a result, CBS ended the current phase of his radio career (don’t worry, there’s always satellite radio where the rules don’t exist).
The media highway is littered with the carcasses of former columnists, reporters, radio personalities and television anchors who made the kind of mistakes that warranted dismissal. Don Imus has been canned before for one reason or another and it will happen again.
Dan Rather lost his CBS Evening News anchor chair over a major mistake during a “60 Minutes II” report. Conservative Ann Coulter’s column was dropped by scores of newspaper after she used a nasty derogative remark pertaining to homosexuals in discussing former Senator John Edwards,
The media list is endless and it doesn’t stop there. Al Campanis gave a stupid answer on “Nightline” about the lack of African-American managers in baseball. He meant one thing and said it improperly. He got fired. Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder made a ignorant comment about the quality of African-American athletes and CBS Sports fired him as soon as it could.
An observation: the most sensitive topic in this nation is race. The old saying is not true – never discuss religion or politics with anyone. Americans, because of our charred history, cannot discuss race relations without striking raw, exposed nerves. Almost all of it has to do with history – discrimination, one of the reasons for the Civil War (which stopped, but never ended in many parts of the South), inequality and failure of respect for fellow human beings.
Sometimes, “get over it” is not the proper answer. However, old ingrained ignorances are difficult to erase. And it is SO prevalent because it is the easiest difference among people to identify. Well, most of the time. Until we change minds and hearts, we will never change actions.
Radio might be on a seven-second delay and “dump buttons,” to mute offensive language (those seven little magic words that cannot be said or heard) be employed. But it doesn’t prevent stupidity.
Live television has no such barrier of protection. Just as CBS and Viacom about Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” which results in fines in the millions of dollars from that nanny group, the FCC. It was obviously a situation which could not be controlled and live means live.
Yes it does, Mr. Imus.
Unlike the written word, which can be changed prior to print, once sounds that constitute words are uttered and leave the mouth, there is NO taking them back. They are out there for all to hear and in our modern world, where the entire world has instant access to visuals and audios, those words are disseminated in a flash – before most people have a chance to take a breath and react. It is certainly faster than most people have time to think and contemplate.
So, in the world of radio and television, the control must exist from within. That person has to take that inner breath and simultaneously think in an instant before actually verbalizing his or her thoughts. It’s one of the reasons that not any man, woman or child can become a radio talker, and even fewer can be seen on television.
Newspaper writers have themselves to police their own works and an additional layer of protection known as editors. When heinous mistakes are made, and people are feeling the ax, it usually means a writer AND editor goes – it is shared responsibility.
Let’s make NO mistake about who got Don Imus fired – Mr. Imus himself. And make no mistake about who pushed him out the door. It wasn’t Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton or anyone on the Rutgers women’s basketball team; that’s just knee-jerk bigotry in action.
It was advertisers to whom all of us in the media are beholden. Paychecks in the newspaper world are issued based on two sources only – advertising dollars and subscription/single-copy sales. That’s IT! In our world, advertising (or as I have called it, “paid news” because they pay to get their message/story to the readership) accounts for 70-75 percent of all revenues. It is a powerful force and when a major advertiser complains, the head honchos listen … closely.
Sometimes the people at the corporate food chain buckle and sometimes they stand by their people. The latter is called integrity and conscience; the former is called pressure. An underling can be fired and never have done anything wrong or written anything false. It isn’t right but it happens … all the time!
Don Imus didn’t qualify under the umbrella of integrity. He went for a cheap laugh and it was disgusting. I’d merely ask all the fathers of girls if they thought it would be funny if their daughter was on that team.
Times have change and the degree of tolerance has also changed for our acceptance of mistakes. What was fine 30 years ago isn’t acceptable today – nor should it be.
We’d all be better off if more people with microphones and cameras took deeper breaths prior to speaking.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

How low as a society can we stoop?

Perhaps the real debate over language and statements (such as was made by Don Imus) needs to be expanded to what this country now believes is "entertainment."
For years, blowhard Rush Limbaugh has been categorized as a "radio entertainer," not any kind of journalist (which he is NOT; he used to work PR for the Kansas City Royals). But what does THAT say about our society that a man who literally chastisted and wickedly attacked the appearance of Chelsea Clinton during the entire Clinton Administration - merely to "entertain?" As a father of two daughters, that is the biggest reason why I believe that man should have an audience of one (himself).
Once upon a time, actual talent was the guiding light. Now it is shock and schlock that rules the day. Don Imus had been make an exceptional living at it for 3-4 decades because the level of acceptance is as low in our society as it has ever been. Millions watch, and then stupidly analyze, the no talents on "American Idol," led by a man who has gained wealth for insulting them.
I chalk it up to the divisive political/social climate where the "win at all costs, even at the expense of other people's reputations" attitude has ruled since 1980. It isn't enough to be comfortable within your own skin; you have to destroy those different from you in order to achieve that comfort level.
Watch to see how many radio "entertainers," who engage in the same methodology, defend Imus. They now see what can happen to their golden goose and they could be next.
One more point: While the news often has an irony all its own, the linkage of the Duke rape case to Don Imus is totally imappropriate. Race is common in both cases, but one was a criminal case that should never have been (why haven't the investigators been more closely scrutinized?) because of a false accusation; the other was a by-product of attitude.
Don Imus should not be imprisoned; Mike Nifong might well need to be.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

How insensitive can a company be?

When it comes to corporate lows in treatment of employees, I nominate Time Warner Cable to earn the Snake's Belly Honor for being totally despicable.
Time Warner force done of its employees to make a service call at 8 a.m. on EASTER SUNDAY for an appointment I did not make (the central office did that) to replace a faulty DVR box. The service center called at 7:30 a.m. on EASTER SUNDAY to wake me up and inform me of the impending visit.
After waiting on the phone after a 20-minute hold (45 minutes the day before when I failed to get a human voice and just hung up), I either had to make the switch right then or wait an endless numbe rof weeks ... or weeks before I got what I was paying for - a functioning unit.
I apologized to the service guy for getting him out there but explained it was not my creation and scolded the service center for being so insensitive. The woman on the other end could not have cared at all. He seems appreciative but it was little consolation.
What kind of corporate mindset sends out reps on EASTER SUNDAY??? It is absolutely shameful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
In Plano, Texas, there was a simple trade of systems with Comcast; Houston got Comcast and we got Houston's Time Warner system (and a Internet provider to be named later). I also have the wireless Internet connection through TW and it's all bad. I feel like the Coyote, not the Road Runner using them.
However, in truth, no one else offers DVR service and I won't go satellite because I'm not climbing on my roof or anything that stupid.
Why should I? Why can't I get quality service out of what is essentially a monopoly? I know you have switched to a competitor (I'd love to know who that is), but the lines and all controlled by the main provider - Time Warner in Plano.
The public had no say in the matter and the elected representatives on the city council ONLY care about maintaining the franchise tax payment, which Texas cities are allowed to charge utilities. God forbid that someone should fuck with their money.
Aside from the U.S. Postal System, no one has worse customer service than cable TV providers. You can be mummified while on hold. Time Warner makes American Airlines look good and that's putting lipstick on a pig and calling her Miss America.
I know she wasn't working on EASTER FUCKING SUNDAY, you MORONS!

Bye, bye I-man

At least on MSNBC, Don Imus is history, as he should be.
Here is the statement from the poobahs at MSNBC.
"This decision comes as a result of an ongoing review process, which initially
included the announcement of a suspension. It also takes into account many
conversations with our own employees. What matters to us most is that the men
and women of NBC Universal have confidence in the values we have set for this
company. This is the only decision that makes that possible. Once again, we
apologize to the women of the Rutgers basketball team and to our viewers. We
deeply regret the pain this incident has caused."

Imus should be locked in a room with the players' parents and look them in the eye and explain why he thought such a rude comment was ... funny. In fact, the producer, Bernard McGuirk, started the entire conversation and he skates in all this. That man should be canned now and never darken a radio studio again.
Of course, there is the premise that such language and conversation passes for ... humor. One might want to joke about New Jersey and Tony Soprano and the Nets and Jimmy Hoffa, etc. But those were hard-working athletes who earned their shot at an NCAA title.
Besides, here's another question. Is Don Imus really funny? For someone who claims to host a comedy show, he jumps into politics all the time. Most of which is pathetic, not funny. Imus hasn't been funny since I reviewed his comedy album "10,000 Hamburgers to Go" in 1972 when I worte for the Michigan Daily at the University of Michigan. The man's been around for 4 decades!
But is he funny? No, he's too crotchity and old and wornout to be funny anymore. Perhaps this WILL signal that he is out of touch and needs to hit the sidelines. One employer has made that call.
Do I believe he is a hardcore racist? No. Is he insensitive to what words can do to others? Absolutely. Should he come to the realization that this is the time to exit stage left (or right)? Hopefully on his own.
Then again, I am not "entertained" by what passes for talk radio today and many things said on the air are equally as offensive, but off-handed dismissed as mere politics. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Neal Boortz, Mike Gallagher, Michael Savage, Mark Levin, Lars Larson and all those like-minded parrots are just as bad and hateful as anything Imus utters.
And it ain't entertainment, baby, unless you enjoy seeing ac hild pull the wings off a butterfly.

Imus statement addendum

The sad, SAD irony of the Don Imus comments is that in a split second, plus the long, regurgitating public reaction, more attention has been focused on Rutgers and women's collegiate basketball than ever saw the Scarlet Knights play this season ... or saw the NCAA Finals against Tennessee. It took a negative for people to notice.
In Dallas, which hosted a regional final (although there is NO base of support for women's basketball), only 3,600 went to Reunion Arena for the finals (it seats 16,000). How embarassing is THAT! Another reason why there is no WNBA team in Dallas, but there is one in San Antonio, which has NO history of women's basketblall support.
And ... when will white people start to understand that words DO matter about minorities?
Answer? When they realize that you can joke among yourselves (blacks, Hispanics, Jews, Asians, etc.) because it's usually not born of malice; it's a putdown based on other's stereotypes. But when a white person says it, its roots ARE malicious.

Welcome to Texas – it’s a whole other nanny state

If being a conservative means you interject your personal morals and religious beliefs into everyone’s life all the damn time, then count me as a card-carrying liberal.
This is from today’s Houston Chronicle:
The most annoying and horrifying conservative in Austin is not nut-case radio talk show host/station owner Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston). It is, and always has been, State Rep. Warren Chisum (R-Pampa). He has orchestrated prior legislative moves to defund programs that provide low cost health insurance protection to poor children and other such “pro-family” moves.
But the bill being proposed goes beyond the scope of anything seen before. Now he wants Big Brother to tell you what you have to do PRIOR to getting married and what you have to do prior to getting a divorce.
WAIT! That’s what you have to do in the State of Chisum … wait. And pay more. And wait some more.
No legislator has that right and least of all, a person who solely bases his priorities on his personal religious beliefs that has wants spread (and accepted) by everyone else – regardless of THEIR personal beliefs. Mr. Chisum has already introduced a bill that would have the Bible taught in public schools and used as a textbook … again, dismissing the fact that thousands upon thousands of Texas use something entirely different as the basis of their religious worship.
And Chisum wants the clergy to lecture people on marriage and divorce. Someone explain to me how a priest, who can never marry or allegedly have sex (emphasis on allegedly), counsel anyone about those two areas? Based on any practical experience?
Monetary issues, more than anything, tend to be the root of marital break-ups. That kind of pressure leads to wrong decisions, thus destroying relationships. Add to that list, drugs and alcohol and other problems along those lines. Chisum and his ilk don’t address those problems areas because … oops, that would run into money that conservatives want to horde for themselves under the banner of “tax cuts.”
The problem of spousal abuse is a serious one; steps should be taken to prevent that. Of course, people should never rush into anything, including marriage, without fully realizing the consequences in total.
But for the state to force people into waiting periods, and forced education and counseling, is just wrong! Don’t cloak your blood thirsty desire to convert everyone to one manner of moral thought under the guise of helping the poor. Those people are the least of your concern.
When will people like Warren Chisum learn to stay out of my life and the lives of my friends … and even my enemies. Apparently never and that’s the biggest problem in Texas and the United States.